How to Cope with Anxiety

Are you often on-edge? Do you find it difficult to relax? When dealing with medical issues, it’s normal to feel emotionally drained, and cancer can cause physical and emotional changes — including anxiety — that persist during treatment and long after treatment has ended.

Am I anxious? Ask yourself:

  • Do I have repeating thoughts that interrupt my daily life?
  • Am I on-edge most of the time?
  • Do I have difficulty breathing when stressed?
  • Do I find it hard to relax?
  • Does my heart pound when under stress?

The unknowns about the future and follow-up care or testing often cause people to feel anxious. While anxiety is not the same as stress, they share some of the same symptoms including:
  • Feeling dizzy, drowsy and tired
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Heart palpitations/racing heart
  • Muscle aches
  • Feeling irritable, impatient
  • Nausea/sick to stomach    
  • Diarrhea
  • Headaches
  • Trouble focusing
  • Restlessness
  • Easily distracted
  • Depression

If you have any of these symptoms, it’s important to speak with your healthcare team about your concerns.

Talking about your feelings can also help. Your doctor can refer you to additional services, such as psychiatry and psychology, or if you are a City of  Hope patient, you can speak with a social worker by calling the Division of Clinical Social Work at 626-256-4673, ext. 62282.

There are several things you can do on your own to ease anxiety including:
  • Being physically active and exercising
  • Identifying and preparing for challenging situations
  • Using relaxation techniques like deep breathing or meditation ahead of stressful events

At City of Hope, you can find helpful information and support for anxiety in the Sheri & Les Biller Patient and Family Resource Center, including support groups, music and art therapy, yoga, massage, Tai Chi and guided meditation. Visit the City of Hope YouTube channel for guided imagery and deep breathing exercise videos.

For class descriptions, dates and to reserve a spot, visit the Supportive Services Events Calendar or the Biller Center located on the Duarte campus in the Main Medical building behind the guest services desk or call 626-218-2273.